How is Dependency Determined?
Students are classified as dependent or independent based on information submitted on the FAFSA. When a FAFSA is submitted, the answers to multiple questions on the application will determine dependency status. If considered independent, the student will report only their own income and assets and the income of a spouse. If considered a dependent student, parent(s) income and assets are also reported, and a parent must also sign the FAFSA.
The federal criteria for independent status is not based on the student physically residing with the parents or on the parents providing financial support. The philosophy behind the criteria is that parents should be the first resource to pay for their child’s college education–before all other taxpayers.
What is a Dependency Appeal?
Financial aid administrators are allowed to review student situations individually, and under limited circumstances with sufficient cause, may determine that a student should be considered independent for financial aid purposes.
Appeals must demonstrate 1) contact with a parent would pose risk to the student, or 2) circumstances that prevent a student from contacting their parents. Circumstances may include:
- Left home due to threatening or abusive environment
- Are abandoned or estranged from parents
- Have refugee or asylee status and are separated from parents; or parents are displaced in a foreign country
- Are a victim of human trafficking
- Parent incarceration and contact with parent would cause a risk to the student
- Otherwise unable to contact or locate parents.
Parent(s) refusal to assist with educational costs, a student’s decision to live separately from parents, or a student’s tax filing status are not, by themselves, considered valid reasons for a Dependency Appeal.
A student who has unusual circumstances, reference above, may pursue the Dependency Appeal. If the student completed a FAFSA and received a provisionally independent status, the Dependency Appeal is the next step in the financial aid process.
Students are encouraged to contact our office prior to submitting the appeal.
How does the process work?
The appeal will request a brief summary of circumstances, including the current relationship with parents, financial information, and two references (personal and professional).
The Appeals Committee will complete an initial review of the information within 2 weeks of receipt. A committee member may reach out (via myUMBC email) to request additional documentation, may contact references, or may request a meeting for additional consideration.
Appeal decision notifications are sent via myUMBC.
Documents and information collected to support your appeal will remain confidential and are used to determine your eligibility for financial aid assistance. However; if the Committee finds that you intentionally made false statements or misrepresentations, your request will be canceled and may be referred to Judicial Services for further review. Additionally, if there are concerns about your well-being, appropriate UMBC personnel may be contacted.
What else do I need to know?
Completion of this form and submission of documents does not guarantee approval of a Dependency Appeal. Approval of an appeal does not guarantee receipt of additional aid. You are responsible for all outstanding bills with UMBC and should make arrangements to ensure that your bill is paid by the due date.
If you indicted ‘yes’ on the FAFSA regarding unusual circumstances, but your circumstances do not warrant an appeal, you can update your FAFSA to indicate ‘no.’ This will allow you to proceed with entering parental information in order to have your FAFSA processed and considered for financial aid.
2024-2025 Dependency Appeal Request will be available in February 2024.